Brittany Lincicome and Kelly Tan had more in common that just sharing the lead Thursday after the first round of the KPMG Women’s PGA Championship at Aronimink Golf Club.
On a cool, windswept day when club selection was a continuous adventure for each of the 132 contestants, Lincicome and Tan fired 3-under-par 67s to emerge from a tightly-bunched pack that had 25 players break or match par 70.
The co-leaders arrived at the LPGA major after competing last week in the ShopRite LPGA Classic at the Jersey Shore, where both found something in their game that helped them navigate the demanding 6,532-yard course in Newtown Square.
For Lincicome, 35, who has struggled to return to form after spending the last seven months of 2019 on maternity leave when she gave birth to her daughter, Emery, she “kind of got out of my own way” in the second round of the ShopRite and became more aggressive. Even though she missed the cut by one, she said it provided momentum into this week.
“I’ve had so much time off since having Emery, and taking time off, and COVID,” she said. "Each week it’s just kind of been, ‘Let’s make the cut. Let’s make the cut,’ and that’s not a way an eight-time winner should play golf. Today it was kind of trusting my process – fairways and greens, being aggressive. Don’t leave the putts short, and kind of just attack the golf course.
“It kind of worked, which is really scary because this golf course was not easy. It was really windy. It was cold at times. But yeah, I just trusted my process.”
Lincicome, who missed only one green, notched four birdies, including one at her last hole, the par-5 ninth, where she switched to a cross-handed grip.
“I hadn’t made a few putts coming down the stretch,” she said, “so I just felt like, ‘Hey, we’re going to give it a try,’ and it worked.”
Tan, 26, made nearly 100 feet of putts in carding five birdies to gain her share of first. She still was riding momentum from the ShopRite, where she shot rounds of 68, 69 and 65 to enter Sunday’s final day four shots off the lead. Even though she closed with a 74 to finish tied for 18th, she left with some positives.
“It was just staying in it, staying patient, and just wanting to be comfortable and not too rushy kind of thing,” Tan said. “I think me and my caddie, we learned a lot last weekend. Hopefully we can just keep it, play our own game this week.”
Tan, who was a rookie in 2014 but is in only her fourth season playing a full season on the LPGA Tour, was dynamic with her putter, sinking 30-foot birdie putts at the 13th and 18th holes and a 25-footer at No. 10.
Lydia Ko, who has two majors included in her 15 career victories, had a chance to join Lincicome and Tan at the top but bogeyed the 18th for a 68 to be part of a six-way tie for third that included Danielle Kang, the 2017 Women’s PGA champion.
Two-time major titleist Anna Nordqvist, who won this event in 2009 when it was the McDonald’s LPGA Championship, was among four players at 69. Thirteen players, including seven-time major champion Inbee Park and Lexi Thompson, were in the logjam at 70.
The wind, which gusted at times to between 15 and 20 mph, contributed to making a tough test even tougher.
“You had to be very careful,” Lincicome said. “There were a couple holes where even girls in my group, it was into the wind for me on one hole, and then they hit it, and it was downwind, and they flew the green. So it was very challenging.”
Play was called because of darkness at 6:59 p.m. with three players not able to finish their round. They will conclude their opening 18 at 8:15 a.m. Friday.